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Con Edison: DER Integration

Con Edison: DER Integration

“The research we are conducting on the use of modern smart grid control systems to enable higher penetration of microgrids and DER with Smarter Grid Solutions, is a key part in our plans to increase resiliency and improve the grid hosting capacity for DER.”

Andrew Reid , R&D at Con Edison

Con Edison, one of the nation’s largest investor-owned utility companies, provides electric, gas and steam service to more than 3 million customers in New York City and Westchester County, NY. The electric transmission and distribution system operated by Con Edison is one of the most complex underground systems in the world, yet one of the most reliable. In 2012, after Hurricane Sandy caused blackouts in large areas of their service territory, Con Edison and the New York State PSC pushed for increased reliability, which initiated an investigation into how the integration of Distributed Energy Resources (DER) and microgrids could assist them with their resiliency goals.

There are regulatory, political and consumer drivers for the increased connection of DER in New York City and New York State. This has resulted in lively discussions about the evolution of Smart Grid technologies to allow distributed resources to be integrated with the existing grid. Currently, DER interconnections are limited by planning rules and the associated operational and technical limitations of today’s distribution grid.  This has resulted in limited visibility and control over DER. For example, the amount of distributed solar PV interconnected to a feeder is often limited to minimum feeder load, to avoid any risk of reverse power flow.

Additionally, microgrids are frequently discussed because of their ability to operate in electrical isolation for a period, providing backup power supply to an area during extreme or emergency conditions - in this case, a microgrid is considered to be a section of the area power grid that can be isolated from the rest of the network and operated independently. There is much expectation for how microgrid solutions could develop to achieve many of the goals desired by electricity consumers, including; increased resiliency, more customer owned generation and improved economic performance.

This study is seeking to investigate how advanced monitoring and control solutions allow for the proliferation of more DER and the development of microgrids, by looking across a range of utility and consumer levels to make recommendations for best practice in generation and control technologies and the grid topologies most suited to these technology concepts.

Smarter Grid Solutions is partnering with Con Edison to conduct a detailed study as to how more DER and microgrids can be integrated into the grid in a coordinated manner that fully utilizes available capacity. The study involves capturing requirements from a variety of industry stakeholders, modelling and simulating control of a number of typical microgrid use cases, specifying deployment options for system control, and communication components, and running a cost benefit analysis of three chosen microgrid example configurations.

In the project, a range of new technologies connecting to the distribution grid have been assessed, including various forms of distributed generation, microgrids, demand response technologies, and energy storage technologies. The impact of each technology was assessed with respect to the capability of the existing distribution grid. For the purposes of the project, a microgrid was considered to be a collection of the aforementioned technologies that can form an independent electrical island, disconnected from the rest of the grid when required.

For the project analysis, targeted locations were chosen in the Con Edison underground distribution network in New York City and overhead distribution infrastructure in Westchester County. This approach identified technical challenges and policy issues across the different types of systems, and as a result, will make recommendations that can be applied across the State in various infrastructure configurations.

A range of technology options are being evaluated by a uniquely qualified project team with direct international experience of smart grid research, development and deployment. The evaluation includes a series of power systems analysis studies to identify associated grid constraints that would occur as a result of the installation of additional DER and microgrid technologies. The key project partners for this project are Con Edison and Smarter Grid Solutions.  In addition, the project team worked closely with a number of industry stakeholders including the project funder NYSERDA and the NY State Smart Grid Consortium. 

The completed engineering study will provide Con Edison and other New York State stakeholders with a working definition for microgrids and their components including: industry wide requirements relating to DER and microgrid solutions; the identification of near-term opportunities to deploy enabling technologies where it makes economic sense; defined technology deployment options for three typical microgrid case studies applied to the real case studies, and recommendations for further demonstration activities.

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